24 Oct 2018

Winner earlier in the year in Bangkok, when he secured the Under 21 Men’s Singles title; Japan’s Yuta Tanaka was very much the name to note as play commenced on Wednesday 24th October, in the third preliminary round of the Men’s Singles event at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgium Open in De Haan.

Listed at no.246 on the current Men’s World Rankings, the 17 year old beat the host nation’s Martin Allegro, named at no.109 and the highest rated player in the preliminary stage; a six games verdict was the outcome (14-12, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6).

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Success for Yuta Tanaka somewhat contrary to expectations, he was not alone, as the top half of the draw progressed; most notably one of the major surprises involved his colleague, Shunsuke Togami, the winner of the Under 21 Men’s Singles event one year ago in De Haan. He was beaten in seven games by England’s Andrew Baggaley (8-11, 7-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-9, 10-12, 11-8).

Presently on the Men’s World Rankings, Shunsuke Togami is listed at no.320, Andrew Baggaley at no.406.

A surprise qualifier considering world ranking, however, when compared with the Czech Republic’s Patrik Klos, Italy’s Matteo Mutti and Chinese Taipei’s Li Hsing-Yang the progress of the Englishman was not the greatest surprise.

Listed at no.901 in the world order, Patrik Klos booked his main draw place courtesy of success against Argentina’s Nicolas Galvano (11-8, 11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 11-9), Matteo Mutti named at no.609 duly progressed following success in opposition to Canada’s Antoine Bernadet (11-7, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6). Impressive performances, for Li Hsing-Yang who stands at no.645, life could not have been easier; he received a walk-over, Scotland’s Gavin Rumgay being forced to withdraw through injury.

Unexpected qualifiers, as the top half of the draw progressed there were more names who advanced contrary to original predictions.

Sweden’s Viktor Brodd and Simon Berglund, Frenchmen Irvin Bertrand and Leo de Nodrest all players outside the top 200 on the current Men’s World Rankings booked main draw places, as did Italy’s Leonardo Mutti and Slovakia’s Alexander Valuch.

Surprise names but one notable name did fulfil expectations; his quest to repeat the success of four years earlier. In 2014 Sweden’s Simon Ardvisson finished in runners up spot, beaten by Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus in the final. Now in 2018 hopes of such a finish remain possible; he reserved his main draw place courtesy of success against Romania’s Rares Sipos (11-8, 11-8, 15-13, 7-11, 11-9).

“This is my favourite tournament in the world. I like everything here; the food, the venue, the hotel. Today I played a great match against a strong Romanian player. It’s fantastic that I made it to the main draw again. Four years ago I played the final, this will be difficult now. I hope to reach the quarter-finals like last year, that’s my goal.” Simon Ardvisson

Play in the main draw commences on Thursday 25th October.

Challenge Series Yuta Tanaka

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